by Cristina Odone
AMID A climate of political tension, Haitian priests and nuns are pressing for the resignation of Archbishop Francois Ligonde of Port-auPrince because of his alleged collaboration with the ousted government of Jean-Claude Duvalier.
The criticisms, which originate within those militant sectors of the Catholic Church that played a key part in the flight of "Baby Doc" Duvalier last February, coincide with nationwide demands that officials associated with the 29 year Duvalier regime be purged from the new government set up by Lieutenant General Henri Namphy.
An open letter to the archbishop earlier this month charged him with openly collaborating with the former. regime; he had "failed to denounce its crimes" and he had reprimanded and denounced priests who worked against the regime.
The unsigned letter, which is believed to have been written by a group of priests, accused the archbishop of being an "element of division".
Archbishop Ligonde, an uncle of Duvalier's wife Michele, dismissed the letter's accusations at a press conference last week: "In every diocese there are always people who are against their bishop for one reason or another."
The archbishop declined to shed any light on his recent visit to the Vatican, where he and Bishop Emmanuel Constant of Les Gonaives had been summoned early last month.
Catholic youth groups have also been actively seeking the archbishop's resignation, and have written several letters to the Vatican demanding his replacement.
Haiti's bishops and clergy, though openly political and regarded as key figures in the removal of "Baby Doc", have repeatedly advocated nonviolent dissent, in accordance to Vatican guidelines. In recent weeks Haitian and foreign priests have disclosed the Church's role in galvanising the protests against the Duvalier dictatorship.
They said that while the majority of the bishops did not take up any sides in the conflict, the lower clergy and the 1,600 members of religious orders in the Caribbean island intensified their contacts with activist clergy in Latin America as far back as 1979.